DIY Alert Blog
PDX Profile: Lisa Gastelum, of TQB Designs
I've been seeing Lisa Gastelum's precise, delicate beaded spheres in boutiques around town for a while now, and they always stop me in my tracks. That's a steady hand! Her use of color is also gorgeous - muted, but deep and elegant. Be sure and stop by Lisa's website, TQB Designs, and her Etsy shop to see more of her work. (What does TQB stand for? "The Queen Bead.")
How did you first get involved with bead-weaving? I first became interested in beads when I was 12. My mother gave me a beaded rope necklace from the 70s, and I promptly started taking it apart. It had thousands of little beads in all colors and I was fascinated!
A little while after that my mother noticed my burgeoning obsession and bought me an inexpensive bead loom. I always like to work with my hands weaving (does anyone remember the friendship bracelet craze in the early 80s...) Anyway, I loved the idea of beads and weaving and was very happy with my new loom. Then, in my early 20s and living in Seattle, I discovered more intricate forms of weaving, I also beaded a few evening dresses for myself and co-workers.
It wasnt until 1994, when I purchased The New Beadwork by Kathlyn Moss & Alice Scherer that I found my calling. David Chatt, the Godfather of Bead-Weavers, has his work featured in The New Beadwork. He uses a much different bead weaving technique than I, called right angle weave, that is much more open. I use the gourd stitch (a.k.a. peyote) that creates a tight fitting appearance with the beads. Anyway, I was absolutely fascinated with David Chatts beaded marbles from his sculpture Hanging on By a Thread and decided that I wanted to somehow replicate that, but with beads and with a much more overall coverage with the weaving.
So, I ran down to my local bead store and found the smallest beads I could find and bone pipe to weave them around. It turned out terribly, of course, but I didnt give up. Almost 15 years later Im still doing them. With many years of trial and error, I developed a methodical pattern system for each of the bead sizes that I make from 4mm to as large as 25mm.
Your beadwork has such precision! About how long does it take to produce one of your beaded spheres? And how many seed beads? Well, I have 9 round sizes plus an oval, square, saucer, barrel and donut, so thats 14 in all. Lets first take my most medium size, the 8mm. I use this on my Petal Dot Earrings. Since I have been making beaded rounds for many years, it has gotten so much faster, of course. It now takes me anywhere from 15 - 20 minutes to make the 8mm size (just depends on how sleepy I am) and takes 156 tiny seed beads to cover.
But, if we were to take one of my largest beads, the 20mm (when finished it is 1 across) - well, that takes me anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 hours to make and has 648 of my tiniest seed beads. These are all woven on one at a time, too - whew!
Will you tell us about your Color Block Fridays? There is something so satisfying about Friday. Though I dont have a traditional Monday - Friday job, I did for many years and can appreciate the giddy behavior some may feel on Friday. I wanted to convey a sort of serendipitous feeling at the end of the work week with my blog color feature. It showcases either a block of color (for March it will be Green), and/or I showcase a specific color in my repertoire.
I believe that color is very powerful and I hope that my Color Blocks give you inspiration or courage to use and wear color in your daily life.
The colors you use are indeed lovely - subtle, yet rich. What inspires you when you're selecting bead colors? I tend to see colors in my head long before I put them together - Im always creating. I guess if I had to choose a specific inspiration it would have to be my yard (I have a huge garden). I really like to challenge myself visually, so I will sometimes work for hours just putting colors together, whether inspired from a photograph Ive taken, or a look through my favorite book of Expressionist artists.
My best combinations really come to me suddenly, and usually when Im working - that always stimulates my creativity.
What is your take on the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" Someone once told me that Craft has function and Art hangs on the wall. I dont think its quite that simple. I do think that Craft tends to be an item that you can use in your daily life, like a ceramic cup, wooden spoon or a pair of earrings. Art and Craft are all made with one's hands and imagination, but oftentimes, Craft can go with you - you can live in its Art. Craft is also a way of describing your process. Every Artist is working on their Craft - an actor, painter, sculptor, designer. Its all connected in some way.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? The ReBuilding Center on N. Mississippi, Powell's Books, the Chinese & Japanese Gardens. I love to sit and have a cup of coffee or a beer and watch people. Also, Tri-Met: You can really get your creativity going - just sitting on the bus or train waiting to get to your destination gives you permission to day-dream.
Cool Place Alert: Unraveled Fine Yarns, Vancouver, WA
Let's continue our exploration of Crafty in the 'Couv with a great yarn store: Unraveled Fine Yarns. You can plan an afternoon for Unraveled, Main Street Bead Connection, and maybe take in the Vancouver Farmer's Market.
Anyway, I knew Unraveled was a quality LYS (that's Local Yarn Store, for the uninitiated) when I walked in and saw a great big table in the center of the shop, with people sitting all around it knitting and chatting. This is a sure sign that a store has a fan-base.
The yarns here run toward the special and beautiful, with lots of hand-spun and hand-dyed options. So many of them are simply breathtaking - this is a great destination yarn shop for those rarified projects.
In fact, you can take a look at the Unraveled website for a complete list of the brands they carry. The store also has lots of needles and books and magazines to browse.
That website also has a list of classes, and if you act fast, info on Unraveled's upcoming 5th Anniversary Sale. Lisa, who owns the store, told me that her stockroom, basement, and every nook and cranny are bulging with yarn, so she's got to have a blow-out sale and make some room. That's on Saturday, March 15th, by the way.
But if you miss the sale, you can still stop by for some shopping, knitting, and chatting. That big table awaits you.
Cool Place Alert: Main Street Bead Connection, Vancouver WA
I know, I know, there's a whole mythology involving sales tax and driving distance that keeps some of you from venturing into "The Couv." But there are fantastic crafty resources up there! Make an afternoon of it, bring friends, visit Unraveled, and have lunch. (La Bottega is an excellent choice for that, by the way.)
And then, check out Main Street Bead Connection. One thing I notice about bead stores is that they seem to either specialize in one type of bead, or they carry lots of different types, but only a little of each. So I loved that Main Street had both variety and depth in their inventory. Let me illustrate...
You can find glass beads, both new and vintage...
And a great selection of gemstone beads, in some really interesting shapes...
And wooden beads, and shell...
And a nice wall of seed beads...
And a nice, sparkly wall of crystals, too.
There are also lots of findings, and vintage buttons, and books and mags. And there's a classroom in back - and our own Teresa Sullivan Studio teaches there sometimes, among lots of other talented artists. Main Street doesn't have a website, but you can call the store for information on classes: 360-750-1444.
Manager Diane Lauderbaugh and her staff are very friendly, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and stay-a-while.
Oh, and by the way, part of the store is devoted to clothing, hats, and bags which have been beaded, embroidered, and embellished. There are some gorgeous things here.
See? You'd drive for all that, wouldn't you?
PDX Profile: Nikki McFerren
This week, we're chatting with painter and collage artist Nikki McFerren. I love the dreamy quality of her work, and the way it blends artistic images of women with interesting bits of paper and baubles normally found in the "crafty" world.
What was the moment when you first considered yourself an artist? I don't really have one quintessential moment where I considered myself as an artist. I have been making art as long as I can remember. My creativity was encouraged as a child, and I frequently went to museums and had my head in art books at an early age. It is so important that a child's creativity be nurtured early on. I think artists see the world differently; observe more acutely. It's from all this time observing that I find so much inspiration.
Your collage images are so dreamlike. What kinds of things inspire your work? As an art history geek, I am always inspired by classical art, particularly renaissance art. I like to take iconic figures from art and put them in new environments of color, texture, etc. I love old things and I am always excited to find vintage imagery to use in my work as well. I could spend hours looking through art papers. I love the look and feel of handmade paper. It's so exciting how you can make something new by marrying random pieces of paper and paint.
What can oil painting do that collage can't, and vice versa? I used to feel that I could more easily translate ideas from dreams in oil paint better than collage, but I am now combining the two and I find that I can now more easily express my vision. I had to shed some of my art training from college to realize that I don't have to immediately pick up a brush to start making a painting.
How do you define the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" For a long time I had a very rigid set of guidelines in my head about what is "art" as opposed to "craft". I had my paper crafts like card and ornament making, and then my oil paintings (very different and separate from one another). My ideas have changed a lot in the last few years and I am constantly trying to blur those lines that separate the two.
Recently I have been incorporating decoupage and paper constructions with my oil painting. I have also included found objects and embellishments like rhinestones into my art. For so long I felt that my love of "sparkly" objects had to be reserved for my craft projects, but no more! ( I currently have a show of these mixed media works at the B Rogers Gallery in NE Portland this month through March 30th). There is a greater appreciation of craft and all things handmade in general with websites like Etsy.com that the art of craft is being elevated. I think it's very liberating to live outside the confines of labels like "fine art" and "craft" and just create.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? - My living room - Wherever my friends are (creative minds are drawn to each other like a moth to the flame) - The Japanese Garden for inspiration and general Zen - Ed's House of Gems -- I found a lot of great objects to incorporate into my art there; like seashells and beetle wings! - Paper Zone -- for glitter and art papers galore
PDX Profile: Beth Barnett, of Beth Bee Books
Beth Barnett makes cute and useful small books. I love the simplicity and charm of her work, and I think her Rabbit Food Cookbook is a fantastic example of creative self-publishing.
What was it that got you started making books? I have always liked to organize and alphabetize things, and my books are related to this habit. Also, I wrote zines when I was in high school and college. At some point about 10 years ago when I was in college, I noticed the loose-leaf books rings for sale at the bookstore by the Ohio State campus. I started using them to make little journal books. I dont know what students usually use book rings for, but they always seem to be at college bookstores. At first I just made my books with cardboard covers, but then I also used book board recycled from discarded 3-ring binders. I made a few for friends as gifts, and everyone really liked them so I kept making them.
It looks like there's a lot of handwork in each of your books. Will you describe the process of making these for us? The process is different for Rabbit Food Cookbook and for the blank books. In the last year, I created a new edition of Rabbit Food that started with laying it out in Adobe Illustrator. I scanned in all my illustrations and I even made a font from my printed handwriting to use in the book. I wanted to keep the same character of the earlier editions but have all digital files to give to my printers. Once I did all the pre-press, I found printers to work with for printing and trimming and contacts for materials and binding. I then parsed out the different jobs, screen-printing the covers myself in my studio. Once I got all the different components collated, the last step was to have them bound by a bindery. It was more cost effective for a small print run to do some of the work myself and get different parts done separately.
The blank books are a little different, though I just put the blank recipe book through a similar process as Rabbit Food to upgrade to die-cut, offset printed dividers. The design for my little address books still requires me to attach stickers for each of the divider tabs, and I like the look, but if I wanted to make a large volume of them I would need to look further into printing services for cutting and trimming. For both of the blank books, Ive got to print the covers, collate the components, and attach the book rings, of course. The handwork makes the books unique and special, but theres a limit to how much handwork I want to do. I am very happy to have someone else with a fancy machine do trim work for me in a few minutes that would take me days to do with my box cutter and paper cutter.
Tell us about the Rabbit Food Cookbook. How did that come about? Rabbit Food started as my own blank recipe book in college. I started writing down favorite and modified recipes, adding stamps or little illustrations along the way. At some point I realized it could become an actual book project. I started to produce it in micro-editions as a book in 2003, though it was basically a hard covered zine. I produced it on a scale of 50 at a time, and I kept reworking it and adding recipes. I finally published it in the current edition with an ISBN, etc. in July 2007. This time I started with 500 and worked with printers, which finally ended my love/hate relationship with copy machines!
You produce your books in small print runs. What would you say are the benefits of working this way? I am still growing my publishing company which is all done by me. I could have done a run of several thousand copies of Rabbit Food and had the covers printed commercially, but the initial investment would have been a really big deal. I decided to keep the books on a semi-handmade and self-published scale and save myself the stress of taking on that level of risk. Making all of my books on a smaller scale gives me more control over the process and gives them the handcrafted personalized feel. The small scale allows me to experiment and make improvements in designs more easily. Finally, whereas most mechanically bound books produced commercially by publishers are being printed & assembled in Asia, my small-scale endeavors are done locally in Portland, giving business to companies in the local printing industry.
What's your take on the difference between Art and Craft? Id have to say that Craft has to have a dimension of usefulness as a tool or an adornment. It has to have something practical about it. In being practical and useful, good craft is not one-of-a-kind, it is reproducible for more than one person to use and enjoy.
Though I believe the definition of Art is loose and philosophical, I am pragmatic about what I believe is good art. Good art is well crafted and not necessarily useful outside of its emotional and intellectual usefulness. It is more unique and one-of-a-kind. Theres obviously a continuum between art and craft at the worst, bad craft first lacks craftsmanship, though it also lacks artistic aesthetic and design; bad art lacks emotional and intellectual substance first, and also shows no apparent craftsmanship and skill.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? I do like going to just about every art store in town, and I love to drop in at local boutiques and see what kind of local and handmade things are for sale. I also have known the women behind Handmade Bazaar for several years and have always liked to go to their sale, whether Ive been selling too that day or I just go to shop and chat with the other crafty people. I just did my first Crafty Wonderland and it was a nice experience too.
PDX Profile: Salmon Street Studio
This week, we're visiting with Gretchen Wooff, who owns and operates a screen-printing company called Salmon Street Studio with her husband Michael. I love the way they use graphics, and I gotta say -- these "VOTE" briefs are one of my favorite things ever.
How did the two of you get involved in screen printing? Michael made a Motorhead shirt in Grade 7 and always wanted to get back to it and I have outgrown using Jiffy Markers or cardboard stencils and spray paint to "beautify" my own clothing!
What kinds of things inspire the designs you print on your apparel? We tend to print things that we think are cute, funny or a little bit odd. We always hope someone else will see it the same way and appreciate it when they do!
I think those screen-printed men's briefs are awesome! How did that idea come about? One day Michael was printing some shirts with the Porcupine design, and saw a pile of clean laundry nearby, and decided to print one on the bum of his own boxers -- viola!
What has been the biggest surprise of running Salmon Street Studio? The fab people we have met! Both in person through Craft Shows and the PDX Etsy Street Team and online. Many have become friends and a large part of our world.
What's your take on the difference between Art and Craft? That is a tough one as they are not mutually exclusive, yet they are not the same either. It is a little like the Chicken or the Egg conundrum but I think we both see Art as more visual/intellectual and Craft as more functional. We have a new shirt design that reflects this. Hint: part of it says: Patron of the Crafts!
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? Our basement studio, the bridges, the old version of Bridgeport Brew Pub and just the general vibe and presence of the old buildings and urban decay/renewal all around.
PDX Profile: Brent Wear
Brent Wear's paintings manage to be funny, charming, and a tiny bit wistful all at the same time. I love his cheerful use of color, and I have an enduring crush on Bird Pants Man.
I love the cast of characters in your work! Have these birds and other creatures always populated your work, or have they shown up more recently? Most of the characters started showing up in 1998 after I moved to Portland from Kansas City. First there were the birds which evolved from canary-like birds into the toy-like characters they are now.
Bird Pants Man was a evolution from those guys around 2000, and soon after that the the "cast" grew to include a cupcake bird, a mechanical hummingbird, plus a host of real birds, a robotic love bird and a group of crow like birds that wear human clothes. Also steam trains, humans, and other random objects. (The characters and narrative definately point to a story, the first of which I am currently working on.) But there definitely was a dramatic change in my work before I moved to Portland. My paintings were much more sparse and varied, often murky abstract paintings and drawings. I'm pretty certain that the rainy Portland winters made me want to brighten things up a bit!
Your work is hard to define. On some levels, it's whimsical, and on others, it's a little wistful. How do you describe what's going on in your paintings? Yeah, i always have a hard time with that one. I would say they can very emotional and intense, and a reflection of my own life experience. They can run the gauntlet from happy to sad, sometimes in the same painting. I think it is a reflection of how I express my emotions through the medium: since I'm not so inclined to be emotional in public... I express it through paint.
A good friend told me recently that he can tell how I'm doing by the paintings I'm working on. It is definitely a form of personal therapy that I happen to share with the world and somehow manage to make a living from. The characters are whimsical, and whimsical is what I'm drawn to...but the emotion is always present. Once that I started seeing a narrative in my work, I could see the reflection of what I was going through or what I was seeing in the world around me. The emotions are not always pleasant or hopeful, and sometimes the sadness comes through. But in the end I hope that the effect is optomistic and thought provoking.
I also love the humor in your work. What role would you say humor can play in art? (I know - what a tiny little question!) :-) Tiny? No way thats a big one! Humor is one of the most wonderful things ever. Humor heals wounds. Humor is both disarming and a force for positive change. The ability to laugh is absolutely essential to human existence. Sometimes I use it to make fun of myself, so I don't take myself so seriously...in my life or my art. Other times to laugh at the absurdity of the human/world condition. Seriously one of the greatest joys for me is seeing one of my paintings make someone laugh. It helps me feel like what I'm doing is worth while.
On the Bio page of your website, you talk about the importance of being involved in your community. What would you say are some good services artists and crafters can offer their communities? There are so many ways you can give back. For an artist or craftsperson you can do that on so many levels. Artists can and do beautify their environment and community, it's almost second nature. It can be as simple as, for example: if you have extra money, buy a painting from an artist you like. Or a piece of clothing made by someone you know who makes clothes. Get into group shows and work with other artists or collaborate on a project or curate a show. You can also volunteer your time creatively to any number of non-profits for the arts around town. Once you start looking around the options are plentiful.
How would you say that "Art" differs from "Craft?" Thats a hard one to me to define and I must say that is a subjective experience for the individual. To me for a long time, the word "craft" made me think of popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners at vacation bible school. That was my own stigma against it, it implied something made in a haphazard fashion that was not very interesting. On the other hand "art" implied something pretentious and accessible to only the elite and privileged.
But I think now the word "craft" itself has been redifined as a kind of functional art. Nowadays a lot that I see out there that is defined as craft is very well made and innovative. Personally I think everyone should be able to have original art if they want it. So to me the craft movement is blurring the line, and perhaps expanding the definition.... and hopefully our appreciation and experience of what "art" is.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? Oh jeez, where to begin? p:ear, Shop People, IPRC, the City Repair Project, Reading Frenzy, Floating World Comics, Missing Link... Seriously I can't name them all because the list would be insane.
I must say that my favorite spot right now is where my studio is at the Egg art collective. it has been such an amazing transformative experience for me. its kind of like working in the middle of a circus. The great thing is that it is such a great cross section of mediums: clothing, visual art, and performance. It is also home to the Launch Pad Gallery and rehearsal space for MarchFourth Marching Band. The space has evolved over the years like a kind of creative petrie dish. It can get pretty lively in there and the First Friday art openings are always a good time. I fell very fortunate to have a place there.
PDX Profile: Amy Kleene, of Blessing Bird
I've always thought of crafting as essentially a spirit-based endeavor (hence, the Church of Craft). So I was excited to discover Amy Kleene's work. She creates handmade objects for spiritual use - shrines, prayer beads, woven mats for sacred objects. And she expresses the spiritual nature of craft beautifully.
There's lots of great food for thought in this interview. You can see even more at Amy's website, Blessing Bird.
How did you first become interested in the intersection between spirituality and crafting? Even though I was raised Methodist, I became engrossed in Catholic and Orthodox religious art as a teenager. Icons, statues, rosaries, chalices, the entire layout of the sanctuary It was a whole new world for meand one that immediately felt like my mother tongue and swept me up full-force. Im a spiritual girl who naturally tends to approach everything very symbolically and visually already. And this is what devotional art is all abouttranslating the spiritual world into something both understandable and tangible!
In the beginning, I spent a lot of time going through books on the subject of devotional art and soon branched out into studying devotional practices from all over the world. Since I was a child Ive been gathering up items, especially items from nature, and arranging them for holidays, seasons, and to mark special occasions like a birthday. Laying out altars and making spiritual crafts has seamlessly followed from that as Ive grown up and studied religion and spirituality. I often find that the process of making crafts about divine truth, life events, goals and problems, or other big mysteries truly helps me get a handle on things. Its a messy, integrative process that pushes me to really think and clarify.
. . . And will you describe that intersection for us? How do handmade things become spiritual? I use symbolism and natural materials in my crafts because I feel like these things are inherently spiritual. Energy naturally moves through them, and symbolismlike Jungs archetypesnaturally speaks to us as human beings. Thats why I love wool and wood, stones and crystals, and bits of plantsthey have a depth and history that speak to everyone, even someone who isnt at all familiar (or comfortable) with symbolic/religious imagery. They also hold and move energy really well. Im a reiki practitioner and an initiated student of the Western Mystery Tradition. Using my hands and prayer, Im able to bless and charge my crafts with a great deal of energy, which is a service of love that I offer all my customers if theyre interested. I have to say, there is a clear difference to me between simply something Ive crafted and a craft that Ive blessed for a particular customer. The distinction is striking, the same way the vibrancy of a well-loved child is readily apparent.
So my crafts are fertile ground for creating sacred space but they require action, love, and intent to amplify their potential. Charging them full of energy is simply a powerful beginning. What Im making is symbolism and potential all packaged up and ready for you to interpret, build on, and make your own. You have to keep nurturing it. Essentially, these sacred crafts are for focus - a focused space to gather energy, prayers, gratitude. Focus is the key. This is what artists do already! They move the inner world outward into the physical, into something tangible. And this is how sacred space is created.
On your website, you speak of people using your handmade items to help them create sacred spaces in their homes. Will you tell us what a sacred space might be used for? You can use your sacred space as a focus point for your emotions, health, & personal growth, for current/past relationships, remembering the past, supporting future goals, honoring the divine, claming your power, moving through life changes or hardships, celebrating life changes, and marking seasons and holidays. The process is so personal and dynamic. You may use the same altar cloth as a foundation while the items on top of it change often; you may recite different quotes each week while running your prayer beads through your fingers or you may use the same affirmation on it for years at a time. I like to set up individual altars to mark the cycles of the year by placing plants, candles, and other appropriate objects in front of a seasonal photograph. I also like to write down keywords and goals, and then display them in my prayer box.
A little shrine box that you receive from me may begin simply as the holder of your intention to have a child with a tea light lit in front of it. As your process unfolds, more and more items may gather around that one candle until it is time to change your focus. You clear the altar space and begin again. And on and on.
Do you see your work as "Art" or "Craft?" And how do you think these two things are different? I definitely see my work as Craft. It seems to me that if something looks homemadeif the hand (and maybe the glue!) of the artist is apparent then its a craft. You can tell full well that I went to the supply store, that I filled up a pail with pinecones while out on a walk, that I slipped a little bit when painting that corner of the box, and that I wove that cloth by hand on a cardboard loom while my toddler was trying to help. And you can tell that I did it all with love just for you. Now thats a craft.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? Portland is a deliciously crafty town. These days, Gossamer on East Burnside is one of my favorite creative spots in the city. For wool-lovers and Waldorf crafters its a little slice of heaven. I also like to buy roving at NW Wools in Multnomah Village. The Pine Needle in Lake Oswego has the most amazing selection of quilting fabric and I always leave there broke and convinced that Im a fabulous quilter.
While Etsy.com is a world-wide marketplace for selling crafts, Portlands own chapter of Etsy sellers, called a street team is named PDXEtsy. Im a member myself and Ive met some of the coolest, most inspiring crafters in this dedicated group! These are seriously talented, hardcore devotees to all things crafty. They have craft fairs and participate in craft sales all year round right here in the city.
Healing Waters and Sacred Spaces on NE Broadway is a fabulous store thats loaded with crystals, altar decorations, and other goodies, and is positively humming with good energy. I cant leave that store without at least a couple crystals to glue into my next shrine. I like going to The Grotto for the inspiration, and taking my son on walks at Tryon State Park and the other countless nature parks were blessed with around here. One of the best things about living in Portland is being able to drive out to the Coast or the Gorge so easily. I find these places immensely motivating and grounding as an artist and a human.
PDX Profile: Heidi Lauman, of Stripes and Plaid
When I first saw Heidi Lauman's work, I thought it was made with some kind of printmaking technique. Then I discovered that it's actually cut paper! Crazy-intricate cut paper, at that. I love its bold simplicity, and I'm in awe of the process. You'll definitely want to see more over at her website, Stripes & Plaid.
How did you become interested in paper-cut work? I was first introduced to the cut-paper technique in my illustration class in college (dare I say, over 10 years ago, eek!). My illustration professor assigned a cut-paper project and it was like a light went on.... I finally found a technique that matched my illustration style. It was important to me that my work be bold with simple, crisp edges, and cut-paper became the perfect process for me. To this day, I use this cut-paper technique for logo and illustration work for various clients. I use other illustration techniques, but cut-paper has always been my favorite.
Your work is so intricate, it looks like it requires nerves of steel! Would you describe the process of making cut-paper art? I don't mind doing tedious and intricate work ... actually, I love that it requires lots of time and patience. I love sinking into a project and just pushing through until it's finished. Sometimes it borders on an unhealthy obsession!
I always start with a plan and my projects begin with sketches on plain white paper. After a few revisions in pencil, I then cut the design from the paper. The finished, cut piece is then made black by either painting it or coloring it with a marker. I then "fill in" the voids inside the line-work with other pieces of painted paper, sort of like a stained-glass project.
What kinds of things inspire your work? Simply put, my inspiration comes from the plants throughout the Northwest. For example, I spent a lot of time creating images (like the Seed Fruit illustration) that were inspired by a tree near a local library. For a few weeks in the Fall the tree was covered in bright green apples but only had a few leaves here and there on its thick, almost-bare branches. The other things that inspire me are textile patterns, and wallpaper and upholstery fabric motifs.
How do you define the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" You know, I used to struggle with the term "Craft" but it was purely a hang-up from college. The school I attended put a lot of importance on defining work as "Fine Art" but I found it was difficult to live up to such a lofty and suffocating term. I think some people feel that Art = Legitimate and Craft = Hobby, which is frustrating. Truly, I don't want my work to require a particular definition or title. The terminology is not as important to me... good craftsmanship and attention to detail are more important to the creative process than the attempt to classify or label the work.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? My favorite creative spots in Portland are the ones that make me want to become a better artist. The places that come to mind are the Japanese Gardens, The Chinese Gardens, Oblation Papers & Press, and Stickers Asian Cafe (LOVE the paintings and photographs on the walls). Also, I'm such a sucker for well-designed product packaging so I feel that grocery stores can be creatively charged... I love to wander the aisles and look at cool packaging!
PDX Profile: Dawn Sorem, of Envelop Cards
Dawn Sorem is a talented card-maker, and a talented teacher. And she's everywhere! You can take her many card technique classes at DIY Lounge, or read her monthly column in NW Kids Magazine. Or, watch her on KATU's AM NW on Monday, February 4th (sometime between 9 and 10 am).
You can see more of Dawn's cards at her business website, Envelop Cards.
How did you come to start your greeting card business? I have been a crafty girl all of my life! I used to have a backpack business when I lived in New York. I have also been a quilt maker, but paper and stamps are what I love most, so I decided after I was a special education teacher for a little while, that making greeting cards and teaching others how to make them was a lot less stressful!
What kinds of things inspire your card designs? While great paper and stamps are the two staples for my card design inspiration, I really find inspiration everywhere. Everything I look at I find myself saying, "Hey, I could make a card out of that!" And if I am stuck, I love flipping through CARDS Magazine to get inspired!
What are some ways that you see a handmade card differing from a manufactured one? Handmade cards or handmade anything is so much more meaningful! When you put time and effort into making something with your own hands it is a treasure! Manufactured products are disconnected from the process of creativity and inspiration. Sure, someone somewhere had to first design a manufactured card, but once it is mass produced 1000 times it is less meaningful when you give it to someone!
What is your take on the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" To be honest, I do not like to think about the difference between "art" and "craft." Both can take a long time, both are hands on, but I guess I see art as things that are painted or molded and craft as things are glued or sewn together. I just know "art" and I know "craft" when I see it, but I do not know how to explain the difference. For instance, a quilt can be a craft and an art, but something painted on a canvas I always think of as art. Art costs more than crafts - that is usually the biggest difference!
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? Some of my favorite creative spots in Portland are NW 23rd Avenue; the Pearl District; Forest Park, where I got married; N. Williams Street with Pix Patisserie and SCRAP; and Alberta Street with Last Thursday, the art galleries, collage, and the DIY Lounge of course!
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